Recorded as Monnery, Mommery, Mowbray, Munnery, Mummery and others, this is an English surname but one of ancient French origins. It is locational from Montbrai, a village in La Manche, France. The placename itself is composed of the elements "mont", meaning a hill and "brai", mud or slime and is said to be of Gaulish pre 5th century origin. Locational names were originally given either to the local lord of the manor or as a means of identification to those who had left their place of birth to seek work elsewhere. Early examples of this surname include Robert de Mowbray, who is known to have died in 1125. He was appointed earl of Northumberland in 1080, but was later imprisoned and disinherited for rebellion, his estates passing to his cousin. The surviving early church registers include Elizabeth Munry who was christened at St. Mary Woolnoth on May 16th 1648, and Rickman Monnery, christened at St. Martins-in-the-Fields, Westminster, on December 16th 1751. The first recorded spelling of the family name in church registers may be that of John Munnery, and dated October 23rd 1543 at Bletchingley, Surrey, during the reign of King Henry V111th, 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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